Tabloids and celebrity blogs thrive on candid photographs of celebrities. Since nosy paparazzi are an integral part of any megastar’s life, be it Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift, it seems futile to try to avoid them at every available opportunity. Besides, the old adage is that there is no such thing as bad publicity. At least it keeps a celeb relevant and on the public’s minds. How would stars like it if the press forgot about them entirely, especially when they have something to promote? Fittingly, then, some performers have adopted a philosophy of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” when it comes to paparazzi, tipping off certain photographers about photo opportunities and then splitting the take when those images are sold. Darla Murray discussed this practice with an actual, though unnamed, paparazzo for an article at Cosmopolitan that offers a unique glimpse into the world of celebrity journalism.
How common are staged paparazzi images? Very, says the insider. “I can’t remember the last time I flipped through a tabloid or browsed a gossip blog without seeing setup shots in the mix.” Many of the big stars do this, the paparazzo claims, and Swift is a veritable genius at using the paparazzi to her advantage, looking picture-perfect in nearly every tabloid shot. There is even some speculation that pics of Swift with her new beau, Tom Hiddleston, are staged.
Celebs indulge in this practice of staged photos for a variety of reasons. The photographs are going to happen anyway, so why shouldn’t stars play along and get at least a taste of the money? A staged ”candid” photo can also be a great opportunity for a famous person to be seen in public using or wearing some product. Another issue is control: If a celebrity makes a deal with a paparazzo, they can then decide which photographs are used and which aren’t. Kardashian is big on this, says the photog in the article, who also has a cautionary tale about working with Amanda Bynes. Poor Bynes set up a photo op at an IHOP in Harlem, thinking she would get some good publicity for a change. But it backfired: The staged photos were used to accompany a negative story anyway. Such are the perils of fame. But at least she looked nice in the pictures.